Rural nursing refers to nurses who work in sparsely populated and underserved geographical locations. The patients they serve may have limited access to healthcare due to living in remote areas.

Since they work in smaller healthcare facilities, rural nurses must be able to think critically and assist patients of all ages and with all types of complaints. For example, in large metropolitan hospitals, nurses are specialized in emergency medicine, pediatrics, cardiology, telemetry, and surgery. In rural hospitals or clinics, nurses may need to be skilled in all areas of nursing as they may not have separate care areas for each. For this reason, rural nurses do have a great deal of autonomy.

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Rural nurses may also work with a very specific patient care population based on their location. For example, some nurses may work on tribal land with Native American populations, or in areas with predominantly Latino patients, or patients coming from a lower socioeconomic background. Each population has specific needs, and rural nurses are skilled in recognizing and addressing these individualized issues.

Due to the often remote or isolated geographical area rural nurses serve, rural nurses do tend to form close relationships with patients. The nurses become like family to rural communities.

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Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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